Sunday, December 18, 2016

Collecting Quotations

I have always enjoyed quotes.  I used to sit down with Bartlett’s Quotations and just start reading.  Lately I have read a column of quotes in the magazine “The Week”, a publication I highly recommend.  It reminds me of other quotations that made me think in a new way about a specific subject such as art.

"If there isn't (a) vision it is hard to get others to follow" John D. Rockefeller on accepting an award from the World Monuments Fund, 2009.
Art critic Michael Kimmelman reviewing the Christo Gates in New York’s Central Park wrote, "Art is never necessary. It is merely indispensible."  The Gates were a project by Christo and Jeanne-Claude completed in New York’s Central Park in 2005.

The same writer reviewing a show “Manet/Velazquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting” at the Metropolitan Museum wrote, “The loot Napoleon took from Spain was an epiphany for artists at home.”  The other side of the coin. A European art dealer, Grete Ring said, "Why should one talk about art, if not to open the eyes of others to it"

Often that is difficult because of the “art speak,” jargon, that many art historians use which makes the following comment by a German/Swiss mother and son team of dealers and art historians amusing.  When Marianne Feilchenfeldt read articles written by her son Walter, "This is not art history. This is interesting."

A quote that recently opened my eyes was about the art of cooking, by Chef Fernando Olea at the restaurant Saz√≥n in Santa Fe "The enemy of the taste is the eye and the mind".  If you think of the word taste as one’s preconceived notions about what art “should” look like it goes for art as well. 

In an art exhibition quotes sometimes help us understand the character of the artist either through a direct quote or from someone who knew her/him or even from an observer.

Georgia O’Keeffe said in 1921 "I wish people were all trees and I think I could enjoy them then".  A lady from the Philippines sitting next to me on a flight said as if in response to Georgia, "Georgia O'Keeffe reminds me how profound simplicity can be".   Here is an image of a painting called. “Gerald’s Tree 1 ” done in 1937 and can be seen at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.  No, it is not named after me but an Irish writer, Gerald Heard who was visiting Ghost Ranch and brought the tree to O’Keeffe’s attention.  On a tour of the ranch a couple of years ago we saw the tree was still there.

O’Keeffe also had something to say about photography in 1922, “Photography is able to flatter or embarrass the human’s ego by registering the fleeting expression of a moment.”   I would put it slightly differently,  Photography is translating the image that you see in you mind’s eye into an image that everyone can understand.  The grand master in this regard was the photographer Alfred Stieglitz whose muse and greatest model was Miss O’Keeffe.

In a comment about his art Picasso wrote, “I don’t search (for inspiration), I find (it)”.  Similarly an interior decorator told me, “As good as new is easy, as good as old is talent.”  It all depends where you are coming from.

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam (1597-1664) was a painter of the Dutch Golden Age, "He created images of space pervaded by calm" from a museum label of Rijksmuseum pictures at the Portland Art Museum. This is the perfect description of this painting by Saenredam in the Rijksmuseum as well as most of the artists other paintings, “Interior of the Sint-Odulphuskerk in Assendelft, Pieter Jansz. Saenredam,” 1649.

In my opinion the ultimate comment by an artist regarding his craft was by the American portraitist Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) who created iconic portraits of George Washington. "What a business this of a portrait painter - you bring him a potato, and expect he will paint you a peach.”   Here is one version of  his portraits of “The Father of our Country” painted in 1796 and now in the Brooklyn Museum.

As the British Poet and Writer Jeanette Winterson  wrote, "Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.”  I will never forget my cousin and senior partner in our gallery, Saemy Rosenberg , saying, “Hear the honeydew from my lips.”

As I finished writing this missive I read the annual Christmas letter from  a friend abroad that includes a few of his favorite quotations. I look forward to learning some of yours.

1 comment:

  1. You might add the singular observation of a wise soul observing the art boom of the 80s, when auction prices seemed as crazy by that era's standards as today's do by ours. "It's not that the art isn't worth the money," he noted; "it's that the money isn't worth the money."